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Old 04-24-2017, 04:02 PM
Bigsby Bigsby is offline
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Default Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

Hey all,

I am primarily a guitarist but am obsessed with rhythm guitar. So, I decided I should look at drummers as the source of inspiration rhythmically.

I had a question for everyone regarding some practice tips I could use when practicing rhythm guitar (or developing rhythm generally):

I am often called upon to record something straight to a click track. So it's just me and the click track, nothing else.

Oftentimes, how I keep time is, I listen to the metronome and have my foot tapping along to the quarter note. However, if I have to play all upbeats (so the AND of the beat), I get lost and my foot feels like it loses that strong timing. It starts feeling loose and jittery.

I can only keep upbeats in time for about 15 seconds or so before I lose the timing (mainly rushing but can also be dragging). This is especially the case at 'faster tempos' (which sadly for me is around 118).

When I have to play the quarter note before the upbeat (so '1-AND-2-AND'), it's much easier. But when I have to drop those quarter notes, yet have my foot keep tapping along to them, and play upbeats, it becomes messy.

Any advice on how to practice this and develop it? I record everything I practice so I see where I am on the grid. So while I know the problem, I still get lost!

EDIT: It bears mentioning that I'm good at singing rhythms to a click. However when it comes to actually playing, I find it harder. I'm certainly not bad but singing the rhythms accurately seems much easier. It's almost like that part of my brain shuts off when I'm playing. If I sing out loud, it makes things easier but I want to rely on as little as possible. When playing, adding more moving parts gets more difficult!

Last edited by Bigsby; 04-24-2017 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:08 PM
Headbanger Headbanger is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

It's worth spending some time on the upbeats alone. That means no downbeats, no chord changes, no melody. Just have the metronome play the downbeats while you play the upbeats, until that upbeat starts to feel natural.

Then if you want to get funky, you can play the downbeat and let the click of the metronome be the upbeat.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:01 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is online now
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigsby View Post
When I have to play the quarter note before the upbeat (so '1-AND-2-AND'), it's much easier. But when I have to drop those quarter notes, yet have my foot keep tapping along to them, and play upbeats, it becomes messy.
Don't tap your foot. Try adding the quarter notes just with your voice-- so you're playing the &s, and saying the quarters. As you go faster/get better, drop out saying the 2 and 4, then drop out the 3, then every other 1, then all the 1s. You can repeat the process with just a mental emphasis rather than actually saying the quarters out loud.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:22 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

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Originally Posted by Bigsby View Post
I can only keep upbeats in time for about 15 seconds or so before I lose the timing (mainly rushing but can also be dragging). This is especially the case at 'faster tempos' (which sadly for me is around 118).
Help me out there, as it challenges my imagination trying to figure out what off-beat guitar genre exists at 118BPM....

Possibly fast Ska? Like the MMBosstones?

For that stuff, I tend to play both down and upstroke on my right hand, but I'm ditch-muting the downstroke (yes, results in audible click) and telegraphing the upstroke.

Do you have command over slower upstroke driven stuff, like polka or reggae?
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:29 PM
Bigsby Bigsby is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
Don't tap your foot. Try adding the quarter notes just with your voice-- so you're playing the &s, and saying the quarters. As you go faster/get better, drop out saying the 2 and 4, then drop out the 3, then every other 1, then all the 1s. You can repeat the process with just a mental emphasis rather than actually saying the quarters out loud.
Thanks Todd. Why do you specifically suggest vocalizing the quarter notes?
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Old 04-25-2017, 06:22 PM
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Elpecs Elpecs is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

This may sound cliche but you gotta go slow! Find a tempo where you can play the upbeats while tapping your foot on the downbeats (it doesn't matter how slow) and go from there. Make sure it's smooth and you are feeling confortable. Then try again at a faster tempo (just a little bit) . If there are still problems, go back to playing it slower. Repeat.

Coordination stuff can be pretty tricky, but slow is always good as an starting point. A teacher use to say, play it so slow that you can't mess it up. It's hard though!
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:06 AM
toddbishop toddbishop is online now
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

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Originally Posted by Bigsby View Post
Thanks Todd. Why do you specifically suggest vocalizing the quarter notes?
It seems to help internalize it better than tapping your foot or something similar.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:25 AM
bud7h4 bud7h4 is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

I don't concentrate on the quarter notes at higher speeds, but focus only on the 1, or maybe 1 and 3.

By concentrating on every note sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Last edited by bud7h4; 04-26-2017 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:37 AM
60's Drummer 60's Drummer is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
It seems to help internalize it better than tapping your foot or something similar.
Gary Chester gives some great reasons in the intro to his "New Breed" method book.

The energy required to produce the note is a different type of energy, helps understand better the 'distance' between notes, helps understand how breathing is a part of our internal rhythm system and a part of music and more.

Check it out - there is probably a pdf somewhere in the hinterlands of the web - great method book but demanding. The New Breed by Gary Chester.
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Old 04-26-2017, 03:06 AM
iwearnohats iwearnohats is offline
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Default Re: Playing offbeats while listening to quarter notes

My personal recommendation is to develop a larger body motion to keep time. So, if you think about the time it takes to strums from the bottom of the strings to the top, how much time do you then have to pause between strums? What can you do to fill that gap to shrink the pause and enable you to have a consistent motion? This is the sort of methodology I use to help me keep good time as a drummer. I guess in musical terms you could think of it as a legato playing style. Obviously drums are a percussive instrument and have a natural decay that isn't manipulated in the same way as notes on a piano, but instead the legato applies to the stroke, not the note itself.

Does that make sense? I know what I'm talking about in my head at least :)
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